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A Collaborative Model for Community-Based Health Care Screening of Homeless Adolescents
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Because of their survival life-style, homeless youth are at extremely high risk for contracting life-threatening and debilitating diseases, such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and hepatitis B, and for engaging in chronic substance abuse; yet health services are often limited and not easily accessed. This article describes an innovative health-screening project for 150 homeless youth between the ages of 11 and 23 years in an urban metroplex. The Homeless Youth Services Project was the initial phase of a multiphase project to investigate the social and health services available to homeless youth. The study project was a collaborative effort between several community agencies that shared the multiple goals of identifying the homeless adolescent population, documenting the rate of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) seroprevalence and level of risk, and identifying community services and resources. Results of the screening project included the psychosocial and physical risks associated with homeless adolescents as well as the laboratory results of blood and urine screens. Consistent with the literature, the study population had a history of runaway behavior; physical, sexual, and substance abuse; and high rates of HIV seroprevalence and hepatitis B. Implications for advanced practice nurses working with homeless youth are also addressed. (Authors)
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services